The sun is shining. Slowly (very slowly, in some cases), vaccines are rolling out. And school vacation is upon us. It’s prime time to dine al fresco with your loving family. Here are 10 open-air gems worth trying in the upcoming weeks.
Why go: Water taxis!
The Boston Water Taxi stops right at Lovejoy Wharf, making for a fun seafaring mini-adventure for kids. (Check schedules at www.bostonwatertaxi.com; service should be up and running next week.) Once you hit dry land, snag a coloring book and enjoy homemade mac-and-cheese, chicken fingers, and brownies (parents can slurp bivalves from the raw bar). The patio is roomy, and right on the harbor.
50 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston, 617-248-0050, www.alcoveboston.com
Why go: Gourmet kids’ food.
Tim and Nancy Cushman (Hojoko, O Ya) run Chestnut Hill’s Bianca, where they have two big patios and kids’ treats like enormous meatballs; fried chicken; and a wagyu cheeseburger for small gourmands (plus sushi, weekend doughnuts, and pizza). Swing into OddFellows for a post-dinner ice cream cone.
47 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 857-576-8300, www.biancachestnuthill.com
Why go: Tons of variety.
Empanadas, pizza, paratha kati rolls, roast beef sandwiches, poutine — this open-air market is a great place to browse, stroll, and remind yourself that real humans exist beyond the confines of your home. Just make sure to reserve an outdoor table in advance; despite the first-come, first-served atmosphere, you need to plan ahead for seating. Then walk across the street for a cone at Gracie’s.
1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, www.bowmarketsomerville.com
Why go: Huge menu; big patio.
Here’s where you go when you want to finally dine out with your vaccinated parents—and your children!—but nobody can agree on what to eat. You will find something for everyone, truly: mac and cheese; spinach dip; rotisserie chicken; a humungous burger; and a kids’ menu that hits all the right notes, from carbs to fish to chicken to ice cream.
321 Arsenal St., Watertown, 617-420-1900, www.branchlinearsenal.com
Why go: Lots of space (and beer!).
Parents rave about the Common’s expansive heated patio, with plenty of space to spread out, and the family-friendly vibe. The menu is family-friendly, too: mac-and-cheese bites, tater tots, waffle fries (and grain bowls if you’re feeling healthy). Another bonus: Shareable beer punches, margaritas, and sangrias; plus $3.50 cans of Miller High Life and specialty items, too.
1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-1228, www.cambridgecommonrestaurant.com
Heritage of Sherborn
Why go: Room to roam and boogie.
This rambling spot from Jen and Josh Ziskin (La Morra in Brookline) is ideal for squirmy kids, because the al fresco dining room is set on expansive grounds — not a constrictive patio or sidewalk. They can run around while music blares (try to position yourself away from the speakers); extra-cautious diners can request fire pit tables, which are even more spaced out than their standard picnic benches. There’s a $10 kids’ section, but be sure to order the sugar-coated donut holes from the main menu.
33 N. Main St., Sherborn, 508-655-9521, www.heritageofsherborn.com
Joe’s on the Waterfront
Why go: Location, location, location.
If you’re exploring the city, stop into the newly reopened Joe’s for waterfront views, a long kids’ menu with all the classics (dogs, tenders, quesadillas), and close proximity to the playground across the street at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park — plus quick strolling access to the North End and downtown.
100 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 617-367-8700, www.joesamerican.com
Why go: Familiarity.
This laidback neighborhood hangout has the ultimate comfort food menu: cheesy tater tots, fried pickles, Belgian waffles, burger sliders, fried chicken, and mac-and-cheese so share. You deserve it.
454 High St., Medford, 781-219-4804, www.snappypattys.com
Why go: Dreamy neighborhood coziness.
A heated courtyard with twinkling lights that can make even the poutiest toddler look charming; adult food like paella and risotto; kids food like pizza and mac-and-cheese; and $12 martinis. What’s not to like?
22 Birch St., Roslindale, 617-323-4595, www.sophiasgrotto.com
Starlite Snack Shack
Why go: Beach food without the sand.
A takeout window in the heart of Cambridge slinging burgers, fries, corn dogs, and soft-serve cones with all the fixins, from the friendly team behind Trina’s Starlite Lounge. A welcome pick if you’re in a hurry or craving vacation food midweek. (Yep, they also serve ice cream cocktails.)
1 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-576-0006, www.trinastarlitelounge.com